Keeping Cats Inside Saves Birds and Other Wildlife
As I sit here writing, I am interrupted by the sound of my two cats making chattering noises as they stare out the window. Emma and Sami are keeping themselves entertained by watching what I call Nature Television – the live program of birds and squirrels eating at my feeders. When they are not chasing each other around the house, scratching at their cat tree or catching water droplets in the shower, they are watching the birds. It’s cute to watch them follow the movements of the birds, sometimes even running to different windows as the birds fly up to the feeders or down to the ground – all the time chattering away! It’s cute because my cats are indoors and the birds are outdoors. I am under no illusion that if my cats somehow found themselves outdoors that they’d play nice with the birds and wildlife.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, free-roaming outdoor cats kill as many as 2.4 billion birds and 22.3 billion mammals each year in the United States! These numbers may seem extreme, but not if you consider how many cats are actually outdoors in the United States. Cornell Lab estimates the number of unowned/feral cats to be as high as 100 million in the United States, with another 50 million pet cats allowed outside by their owners. Their research indicates 30-40 birds are killed per unowned/feral cat per year, with lower estimates for owned, outdoor cats.
In order to save birds and other wildlife, there needs to be a lot less outdoor cats, and there are programs in place to try to bring the numbers down. TNR, trap/neuter/release is the practice of capturing unowned/feral cats so they can be vaccinated, spayed or neutered and released back into the wild. This sounds like an ideal solution to bring down the cat population, but there are disagreements to whether it really helps reduce the negative impacts of feral cats on birds and wildlife.
Some cat shelters, besides engaging in TNR, are bringing feral cats indoors when they believe they are adoptable and either placing them in homes or keeping them indoors at the shelter to live out their lives if they are not adoptable. The shelter I adopted Emma and Sami from does this. They have an entire floor in the shelter dedicated to feral cats that freely roam in complete safety. Emma’s mom lived there for a while, until she was adopted.
If you have cats and let them outside, please consider keeping them indoors. Cats are wonderful, loving creatures, but they are also natural hunters. Keeping them indoors will mean so much to the birds and small animals in your neighborhood.
Thank you for helping to spread the word and for helping to keep birds and wildlife safe.